Lethbridge singer Kyle Gruninger performs in Queen musical We Will Rock You
Touring musical celebrates the music of legendary rock band Queen
We Will Rock You is an original musical from London, set to the legendary songs of Queen.
It's playing at both Jubilee Auditoriums over the next few nights, and will be back in Alberta in January for shows in Medicine Hat, Lethbridge and Red Deer. Lethbridge's own Kyle Gruninger is one of the performers.
Gruninger is best known as the frontman of touring band Incura and has just released a solo debut EP called Picture Perfect. He joined the Calgary Homestretch to talk about spending the holiday season with back to back performances of We Will Rock You.
This interview has been edited for content and clarity.
Q: You're an Alberta boy. How does it feel to be back home?
A: I am so excited to perform in front of my entire family, in front of all my friends in front of all the people. I am stoked beyond words.
Q: Tell us a little bit about the show.
A: We Will Rock You of course is all about Queen music. That's the one thing we really want to get out there. Just all about Queen songs. There's over 25 different hit Queen songs in the show. Now, besides just the music part of it, there is quite a fun story that goes along as well. Kind of a futuristic story, like the book 1984 almost. The music in the future has been made illegal, musical instruments have been banned. Killer Queen and Commander Khashoggi are going to make sure that stays that way by torturing the bohemians who are there to find a dreamer, who is going to bring back real music.
Q: Who do you play?
A: I am Commander Khashoggi, so it is my job to brain torture the bohemians and stop them from bringing back real music. I am the bad guy.
Q: What songs do you get to sing?
A: I get to sing a duet with Killer Queen, which is one of my favourite things to do. I also get to torture the Bohemians singing the song Seven Seas of Rhye.
Q: What was it about the music that drew you to it?
A: I got into Queen a little later in life, honestly. I was probably 19 or 20 when I was in a show with a group of musicians. We were travelling to the next gig and one of the musicians just decided to throw in A Night at the Opera while we were driving. That was really all it took. With great music and great bands, just hearing them is usually enough. So that was the moment for me: we're just driving up over the mountains, the sun's coming over the hills and Death on Two Legs started, and just that big guitar roll. There's just nothing like it.
Q: Queen has has quite an iconic sound. How do you balance what people are expecting to hear with your own style?
A: The great thing about this is, the song is kind of the basis of everything. So the great song is kind of what we're performing. Now, everyone's voice and the voices around are different. But we were super lucky to have Stuart Morley come in, who was Queen's musical director. He let us sing for him and kind of shape our sound and let us know kind of, 'What would Freddie do?' and that kind of stuff. So we are super lucky to keep it really authentic.
Q: You guys have eight shows in five days between Calgary and Edmonton. How do you keep your energy up?
A: I didn't need you to remind me of that! What it is, really, is water and food and sleep. That is really what it comes down to for me. Everybody is different, of course, in the performance game, but for me I just need to eat properly, I need to drink a lot of water, I need to try and sleep as much as I can.
Q: Without giving away too much of the plot, what's your favourite part of the show?
A: By the end of the show, I will say, when we're singing those final songs every single person is up on their feet, hands in the air, singing with us. You look out and see young kids of maybe 10 years old standing beside their parents you know both wearing Queen T-shirts, waving their hands. There's nothing like that.
We Will Rock You is playing at the Jubilee Auditorium in Calgary Dec. 27, 28 and 29, and in Edmonton Dec. 30 and 31.
Kyle Gruninger has worked with multi-platinum producers Arnold Lanni of Our Lady Peace and Brian Howes of Nickelback, and has performed in "countless" variety shows throughout his musical career including Rockers Gone Country, Hit Parade and Starlight.
With files from the Calgary Homestretch.